December 21, 2007

Digital Media, Games, and Open Access

by Nick Montfort · , 7:19 am

With regard to your request, I cannot agree to review for your journal right now. If [it] becomes an open access journal, I will be very glad to review articles for the journal.

Having written this in an email recently, I wanted to post about my reasoning and ask what Grand Text Auto readers, commenters, and bloggers think about this issue. Open access journals and other scholarly publishing issues are classic ivory tower matters, but my concern about restricting access to Grand-Text-Auto-like subjects has a lot to do with my concern for non-academic readers and commenters here, as well as academics who aren’t at major research universities with full access to journals. This includes people at small liberal arts colleges, even if they write award-winning papers, and independent scholars, even if they regularly keynote conferences and contribute authored and edited volumes to the academic discourse. It also includes game-makers, electronic literature authors, creators of digital art, and those who arrive here curious about digital media. Not to mention one of our six drivers.

I think there must be a few things that those of us who are part of the scholarly publishing process can do to foster an open-access future. The easiest thing that I’m able to think of is simply not volunteering our labor to lock academic writing away from the public.

For those not familiar with the journal review and publication process: Scholarly and scientific journals differ from many other sorts of publications. Authors are not paid – in some cases, they pay in the form of per-article fees or fees for color illustrations and extra content. Articles are reviewed by other academics who determine if they should be published; these reviewers are also not paid. The work that people do as researchers, writers, and reviewers is effectively subsidized by whatever institution supports these people as faculty, staff, or students. In the case of pay-for-access journals, the same institutions that indirectly pay for important labor on a journal also must pay the for-profit company that runs the journal in order to gain exclusive access (that is, access not available to the public) to the final outcome. This access doesn’t typically come in the form of a print journal these days, of course.

This process is one that I characterize as anti-publication. It may serve some credentialing purposes and help universities assess tenure and promotion cases, but it ends up restricting access to scholarly work rather than helping to publish that work, that is, helping to make it available to the public.

The may be several reasons that people choose to anti-publish their work, although bad faith must be the major one. In some fields there are few options for true publication that also contextualize one’s work and bring it to the attention of one’s colleagues. The best way to get word out about recent research to the subscribing elite may be, in these cases, through entrenched, well-known avenues for anti-publication. One could even argue that for esoteric, specialized fields that have no connection to the public (if there are such things), the lack of public access doesn’t matter.

This is hardly the case in digital media, where non-academics ranging from poets and artists to game-makers are working with academics to determine what the creative possibilities for computing can be. And there are suitable open-access journals in digital media, including Game Studies and Digital Humanities Quarterly.

When I made this rather easy decision, refusing to review an article for a for-profit, non-public journal, I was very much thinking of our not-entirely-academic discussion here on Grand Text Auto and about how I want to spend my time and effort fostering such conversations. I was also thinking that those of us who are academics dealing with digital media have the chance now to determine whether we’re going to become one of those public-irrelevant fields where anti-publication is the norm and we speak only to ourselves, or whether we want to speak to and learn from those creating and encountering poems, games, art, drama, writing, and other sorts of digital work outside the university.

35 Responses to “Digital Media, Games, and Open Access”

  1. Jason Scott Says:

    Got to give us what we want
    Gotta give us what we need
    Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
    We got to fight the powers that be
    Lemme hear you say
    Fight the power

  2. Ben Brumfield Says:

    Speaking as a non-academic who often has to decide whether an article is worth $18 out of my pocket to read, thank you!

    At times, anti-publishing becomes a cruel joke, as with this $95 volume on non-institutional scholarship.

  3. zach whalen Says:

    Speaking as one who has worked for an open access journal for several years, and one who has recently submitted an article to a not-open-access journal (possibly the very one you speak of), I have to say that I generally agree with your sentiment that open-access is morally and pragmatically superior. But the current economic realities of scholarly publishing (and my current dependence on it) prevent me from endorsing a boycott just yet.

    I thought hard about whether to submit to the two journals you’ve mentioned, but in the end, one motivating factor for my decision was that I really need to see my article in print as soon as possible. Game Studies is a great journal, and is excellent in terms of getting one’s work to the right audiences, but I’m at a stage in my career (job searching) where it’s a clear advantage to see my work published as quickly as possible. So the 1 issue per year rate isn’t going to be as helpful to me as a consistently quarterly publication. (And, incidentally, I’ve got something more appropriate for DHQ in the pipeline).

    All I’m saying is that I don’t currently have the luxury of withholding my submissions from a journal that will publish my work, even if I object morally to the mercenary status that puts on my scholarship. It’s a concession I’ve made, I’ll admit.

    Perhaps it’s because open-access journals tend to run on volunteer labor (I don’t know how broad a trend that is, but at least ours does, — even though we do have institutional support), or perhaps the production apparatus already available with e.g., Sage or Blackwell-synergy, just streamlines the process.

    One notable aspect of many open-access journals (and this is just a general impression) seems to be that they often feel compelled to insist on their scholarly rigor in a sense that wouldn’t be necessary with a subscription-based journal.

    Anyway, I’m starting to digress. All I wanted to say is that you’re absolutely right: it needs fixing. But for now, for me, it’s an unavoidable hurdle.

  4. Ben Brumfield Says:


    Under the terms of your agreement with the journal, will you retain the rights to put your paper online somewhere yourself?

  5. Yusuf Pisan Says:

    There are some excellent well established open access journals, such as JAIR, but there are also some open access journals where the goal seems to be to make money by charging authors for extra pages(!). For example, I have my doubts about the Hindawi Journals and waiting to see how their “International Journal of Computer Games Technology” turns out. These pay-to-publish open access journals can seriously pollute the field, make it difficult to find quality papers and distract new people entering the field.

    On the other hand some paid-access publishers, such as Elsevier, do give authors permission to post their papers on their personal website which essentially make these articles as accessible as open access journals.

    We should support quality journals. If they are open access, so much the better.

  6. scott Says:

    I think the best practice for people publishing, in whatever journal or whatever form, is to make their writing as available as their circumstances allow. I typically publish articles on my web site before I submit them to journals. They change a bit when they get published in those journals (I’m currently turning an 11,000 word article into a 6,000 word book chapter which will be more concise but less, um, rich) but the originals will still be googleable. Most of my creative work I’ve simply given away. I’m sure that there could be benefits to the exclusivity of non-open publishing, but whatever, frankly I don’t give a hoot. As long as I’ve got a job and bread on the table, I’d rather participate in the emergence of a different model of creative and scholarly culture. It’s a great feeling to sell a book or to have someone buy a journal because you have been published in it. But it may be an even better sensation to tell someone that they have free and open access to your work if they simply type your name or a title into a search engine. Simple magic, and there it is. Type a name and peel a brain wide open.

  7. Joshua Dunfield Says:

    “Anti-publication” is a great term; I hope it catches on.

    I’d point out that there are different kinds of open access. Many copyright transfer agreements for “toll” journals explicitly allow the author to make a copy available through their homepage or institution, even though the publisher puts their copy behind a wall. This has become known as “green” open access. The end result is very close to explicitly OA (“gold” open access) journals: everyone gets to read the article, even if they sometimes have to go through an extra step of finding the author’s homepage (or, in disciplines better organized than mine, a repository).

    I don’t know if you had green OA journals in mind, but I’d hesitate to “punish” them by not participating in them; while mildly perverse, green OA is much better than toll access.

    BTW, the nature of the publisher, perhaps surprisingly, isn’t determinative: not-for-profit scholarly societies are often just as “anti-publishing” as for-profit corporations.

  8. zach whalen Says:


    I’m not sure, but I would hope so. Officially, the best I can tell is that I would need to ask permission, which may or may not mean that said permission would be automatically granted.

    I think I see where you’re going — if I’m publishing in a subscription journal which my potential hiring committee doesn’t have access to, I don’t get any benefit from having it published there unless I can post it somewhere else on my own. Even if I can’t, though, I still get the CV line, and I can send someone a copy if they’re interested enough. That’s not an ideal situation, and I’m ultimately not happy about it, but in some cases it may be better than waiting a year or two for it to come out, unfortunately.

  9. Ben Brumfield Says:


    That’s not quite what I’m getting at.

    Assume that you (an aspiring scholar in pursuit of an academic career) have written a paper on X, and that I (a member of the public with no affiliation to an institution that subscribes to for-pay journals) am interested in X. Furthermore, X is as obscure as “FPS electracy” or “collaborative handwriting interpretation”.

    What’s important to me is that upon Googling X, I’m able to read your paper immediately — without making an ILL request or spending the price of a nice meal.

    What’s important to you is that you maximize the job-acquisition potential of your paper.

    These are not entirely unrelated — as you point out, your hiring committee might not have access to the for-pay journal you publish through. Similarly, hiding your paper behind a subscription wall necessarily limits its visibility to people who might increase your job-acquisition potential — perhaps by citing it in their own work, perhaps by commenting on it in ways that inspire or improve your next paper.

    But for my primary and your secondary purposes, it doesn’t matter to me whether you participate in a green OA journal or a gold one, as long as you put your paper somewhere it can be accessed without registration and payment. In effect, the for-pay copy becomes irrelevant to me and many of your readers.

    Unfortunately, not all publication entries have equal value to the job hunter. When faced with a subscription-only journal publication versus an OA publication, you may decide that the benefits of publication time or reputation outweigh the consignment of your paper to relative obscurity. I really couln’t condemn that choice — as a software developer, I face similar quandries regarding open-sourcing my own work versus trying to make a living off it.

    I suspect that the OA debate will be resolved neither by authors nor by readers. The scientific publishing panelists at SXSWi this year agreed that the fight was between funders and journals.

  10. Dennis G. Jerz Says:

    I worked far too hard on my latest article to squander it behind a pay-per-view firewall. It helped that the subject matter of that article — the history of Will Crowther’s Colossal Cave Adventure — was of interest to geeks who blog. Further, part of what motivated me to write the article was that there’s already a lot of incorrect and partial information about Adventure online, and I wanted to be in a position to combat some of the most egregiously inaccurate memes.

    The issues Nick raises are especially important for humanities scholars, since as grad students we rarely get paid research positions, so we largely had to pay our own way to conferences. About 10 years ago I presented a paper on technical writing instruction at an engineering conference. Fortunately the writing center where I was working at the time helped pay the expenses, which were an order of magnitude higher than the expenses at the humanities conferences I was used to attending.

  11. Vance Bell Says:

    As someone involved in OA publishing for over a decade, I have to commend Nick’s willingness to make this type of stand regarding his own publication(s). While in the sciences OA publications and pre-press archiving have a strong (and rather noble) history, their humanities counterparts have just begun to gain significant traction, and frankly, they could use more support.

    As Nick states OA is often discussed as an “academic” concern of little relevance to the general public (even those members of that public with a keen interest in the subject matter at hand). However, I would note simply that as an editor the shear volume of information requests I’ve received from the general public, high school students, undergrads, grads and those affiliated with foreign institutions has been impressive. It certainly points to the availability of active, interested, and wider audience once authors, publishers and institutions embrace OA.

    “Gold” OA (where authors/institutions pay an upfront publication cost) seems particularly egregious form that benefits readers at the expense of raising a “pay-to-play” bar for authors who are already providing free intellectual labor. “Green” OA solutions (where publishers “allow” authors to self-archive while continuing to publish subscription-based journals) are far more appealing. Green modes also have a great potential for broad, near-term, acceptance–especially if educational institutions would support mandates for post-print OA archiving and sort out the depository issues. In the end I have to state my preference for any form of “pure” OA that might come to exist, particularly one that elegantly solves the issue through a distributed editorial labor model combined with efficiencies in publishing technologies. Call me a futurist, but I see that model operating well many cases even today.

    Recently, our journal ( was approached by the Open Humanities Press, a grassroots initiative to form a consortium of OA journals to promote the benefits of OA publication, address the “credibility gap” in OA, and support established OA journals through relevant technological initiatives (e.g. meta-data tagging, accessibility, etc.). If anyone here is affiliated with, or considering founding, a journal on digital media, you might find them a valuable resource.

  12. Mark Says:

    While I strongly support open-access journals, what would really be a deal-killer for me is the for-profit nature. I’m even a bit skeptical of for-profit open-access journals; it seems to me that if someone’s making money off the business, they ought to pay all people involved, including the reviewers. Asking for volunteers to help you make a profit just seems a bit perverse. I mean I might volunteer to help a non-profit museum manage crowds, but i wouldn’t even think of working security at my local bar for free.

    I might even volunteer to review for a non-profit closed-access journal if they convinced me that there really was no sustainable way they could operate otherwise, but I certainly wouldn’t do so for a for-profit closed-access journal. (From the reader’s perspective, open-access is of course always superior.)

  13. nick Says:

    I didn’t mean to suggest that it is wrong to submit articles to closed-access journals. Offering an article to such a journal is of course problematic, as we’ve discussed, and trades off the opportunity for true publication for a chance at an additional credential. But this additional credential is sometimes very important, as Zach mentions. If there’s the possibility of archiving a pre-print or placing a copy on one’s own site, as Scott does, the effects of closed-access publication can be mitigated for that one particular author, if the person isn’t sent a take-down notice and if that person is willing to put in the additional publishing work that a journal should be doing.

    I was just saying that for those who have similar principles, there really seems to be little point in volunteering to review articles for a for-profit, closed-access journal.

    The benefits to doing so are, as best as I can figure:

    – You offer service to your academic community by vetting articles and suggesting how they can be improved.
    – You get to mention on your CV that you review articles for a journal – really a very minor benefit, not comparable to a publication.

    The disadvantage is:

    – You work to further entrench a publishing model that you think is bad for the field and the public.

    In this case, when the issue came up, I did these things, which seemed to me to be fair and reasonable:

    – I explained that I will not review articles unless the journal becomes open access, making my principles and my position clear and making it clear that I don’t object to the editing of the journal, just the way it is currently published.
    – I turned to an open-access journal that I have not reviewed for and offered to be a reviewer, so I have the chance to serve the community in this way (and a chance at the CV line).

    I doubt anyone would imagine refusing to read the articles that appear in a closed-access journal and giving up their important findings and insights. Without advocating a boycott on accessing such journals, or even on submitting to such journals, I think there are still ways that that younger scholars can influence how academic publishing is done in our field. Preferring open-access channels (even if we still submit to other journals) might be one way; letting our administrations know about open access and supporting our librarians in advocating for them are other ways. Using our time and effort to review for open-access journals, rather than for journals that restrict most of the electronic literature and game designer crowd from reading them, seems to me to be another low-cost, low-effort way to advance toward a better environment for publication and communication about digital media.

  14. Joanna Bryson Says:

    I agree there are some problems, but as an academic, I have to say I think most self-titled “open access” journals are a scam. Why should I not only write reviews and do editing for free, but also *pay* to publish my articles?

    It is perfectly fine to charge money for a service, and journals provide a service in helping the scientific process by making the reviewing and editing thing happen. I’m in computer science and so I have published in workshops, conferences, crap journals and excellent journals, and I can promise you that there are no reviews as good as those from good journals (well, actually, I got some really useful reviews from NIPS once.) And as a writer, the good journals that offer editorial as well as peer-review advice — well, no wonder they are better to read.

    I think a better way to address the problems you mention is to have people realize that universities are public resources. At my university (Bath) you can get a year’s subscription to our library — access to all our books and journals — for seventy pounds. That’s pretty cheap as business expenses go. You can support education and get educated at the same time. Bath’s library also has a widely-available service where they can purchase articles for you if they don’t subscribe to them from other university libraries that do at what I think are lower rates than the on-line ones, though I can’t swear to it. As as someone who passed up making salaries to devote my life to academia, I must admit that one of the few perks of the job is that I never see the bill when I do request articles that way.

    Also, like Scott above, all my papers are available online in draft and sometimes nearly final form. When I run into a journal that my library doesn’t subscribe to, I can nearly always find a free version on line if it’s about computer science, and sometimes if its anthropology or psychology. Biologists are a bit more uptight.

    So basically, I think that while some publishers (notably Elsevier) are making way too much money off of free labour, there are a lot of good journals and publishers out there — and academics and universities — that deserve public support. You probably live near a university — why not join their library?

  15. nick Says:

    Few of the open access journals raise money by charging their authors fees, a surprising finding according to Morris. In fact, page charges, charges for color images, reprint charges and other fees for authors are considerably more common among subscription journals, the study found.

    That from this news release, which discusses the study “The Facts about Open Access.”

    Neither of the digital media journals I mentioned – Game Studies and Digital Humanities Quarterly – charge authors to submit or publish their work.

    On the other hand, all IEEE journals, including the closed-access IEEE Transactions on Systems Man and Cybernetics in which you published this year, Dr. Bryson, have voluntary page charges. I’m sure that neither of us think that these journals are scams.

    I can see where your distaste for open access journals, and for Elsevier, might come from, given that you’re an associate editor for a Sage Publications journal. No one is arguing against the editorial quality that I’m sure you uphold in your work on Adaptive Behavior. I know that Game Studies maintains high standards in their reviewing and editing and I have every impression that Digital Humanities Quarterly does.

    The matter I’m concerned with is not how to improve or neglect editorial work, but how our discipline (loosely, digital media – the field that Grand Text Auto readers and bloggers work in) might better communicate with the public. Asking all the electronic literature authors and video game creators we know to track down academic libraries with article services and then pay to subscribe to these is one idea, but it doesn’t seem to me to be a very persuasive one.

  16. academhack » Blog Archive » Taking the Principled Stand Says:

    […] more academics are willing to join Nick. I was also thinking that those of us who are academics dealing with digital media have the chance […]

  17. Ben Brumfield Says:

    I think a better way to address the problems you mention is to have people realize that universities are public resources.

    I really think this strategy won’t reach any part of the public beyond those who already using them. At a time when one may reach interested readers throughout the public for the most obscure of topics, research published this way seems destined for irrelevancy.

    At my university (Bath) you can get a year’s subscription to our library — access to all our books and journals — for seventy pounds. That’s pretty cheap as business expenses go.

    But what of occasional readers such as hobbyists or independent scholars? $150/year — plus the trip to the university during library open hours, parking, etc. — may be reasonable for someone using research professionally. It’s a bit much for a parent with an unrelated day-job, for whom this is not a business expense.

    Whether or not members of the broad public read an author’s paper may well be irrelevant to the author. But to the extent that useful criticism happens online, and academic authors benefit from engagement with non-institutional voices, reliance on pay-to-read journals puts the author’s work at a competitive disadvantage.

    In my own case, I’ve found only about a fifth of the papers I’ve read on manuscript encoding to be useful for my work developing manuscript transcription tools. There are papers I have not read, however, because they are behind an IEEE pay-wall. By some standard, the fee is modest — if I was certain the paper contained exactly what I needed, it’d be worth $18. Absent that certainty, however, it’s not worth it, so those papers will have no impact at all on my work.

    This competitive disadvantage must be weighed against the advantages you cite, or circumvented by publishing drafts or such.

  18. Sherman Dorn Says:

    Wow. You’ve turned John Willinsky’s spectrum of access into a hostile dichotomy. Poor strategic choice, I think, and not one likely to be followed. I edit the open-access Education Policy Analysis Archives, and because it is an almost-zero-budget operation, I am painfully aware of the actual costs of producing an open-access journal.

  19. J. Nathan Matias Says:

    Dorn– I think that Nick is saying that while there may be a spectrum of access, there is not a well-corresponding spectrum of involvement.

  20. nick Says:

    Sherman, your comment is cryptic to me. I’m not trying to be hostile; nor am I trying tell people in other disciplines, such as yours, how they should act or how their scholarship should be published. If you think my decision was the wrong one for a scholar in my position to make, please let me know something about why you think this.

    Within digital media, I should have already mentioned that there is also the new, open-access Eludamos: Journal for Computer Game Culture.

  21. Scholarly Communications @ Duke » Changing the economics of scholarly publishing Says:

    […] far more radical push to change the economics of scholarly publishing is expressed in this post on “Digital Media, Games and Open Access” from the blog “Grand Text Auto.” It is written by Nick Montfort, an assistant professor of […]

  22. Greg Says:

    Hmm… Well, being basically a practitioner who has dabbled in academia, I agree that the old model of journals mouldering on university stacks is clearly obsolete, and that in an ideal world, all academic research is Googlable. On the other hand, I understand that maintaining a high academic and editorial standard does cost money, and it isn’t clear how to support that in an Internet world, barring subsidy from a university or some other entity. And on the third hand, as a sometime commercial author, the notion of paying someone else to publish my words makes my hackles rise–that’s “subsidy publishing,” and is a clear scenario for publishing complete crap from people with ready cash. (And on the fourth hand, it’s pretty obvious that the limited readership of academic papers is never going to generate sufficient ad revenue, even if you were willing to sully a journal with ads, to support the cost of production.)

    Oh well, probably something will turn up; I expect that in a decade this will be a non-issue.

  23. Sherman Dorn Says:


    First, let me say that I have never regretted taking on the editorship of an open-access journal. Philosophically, I think it’s absolutely right. But I also respect those who work in journals where there are no open-access journals or whether they really cannot do the best work without an economic model that is different. Given that, I’m not sure how an editor could read your reply to a review request as anything but hostile. We’re all familiar with not having time to review, not thinking that one has the expertise to write a decent referee report, or recusing for some reason, but because the economic model of a journal isn’t on the cutting edge? In many journals, editors do not control the economics because a learned society contracts with a publisher.

    Please read Willinsky’s book. (MIT Press has made a PDF of the entire book available free.) He explains that a better way to think about the issue is to think about opening access as an active verb or as a spectrum, not the dichotomy you describe. What about journals that open their articles a year after publication: is that open enough for you? And if so, is your letter to editors going to push them towards advocating that change or away from it?

  24. Lev Manovich Says:

    Bravo, Nick!
    Here is my own method which I used from the beginning of my career. In 1994 I created a web site and sarted to put each of my new text on it. Also, between mid 1990s and recently (when blogs have taken over mailing lists), I posted all short new articles on nettime and rhizome mailing lists. I have published my very first article in a peer review article in 1991, but this was the last time – after that I never submitted anything to peer review journals. And I never review for them as well. I do, however, review manuscripts for academic presses (when I have time).
    In a few cases an institution which wanted to publish my own asked me not put it online – in such cases I refuse to publish with them. But this maybe happened 5 times out of 300. Nobody else really cares, regardless of what kind of copyright form they force you to sign.
    So my suggestion is for academics to start putting all their writings online – and if they need to also publish in peer-reveiw journals for promotion purposes, they can also do it. One thing does not prevent another. Yes, in the best possible word we want the whole peer review system to go away, but this will take a while. So, for now, just put everything online and dont worry about the journals.

  25. nick Says:

    Many thanks for all of your comments…

    Greg, the economics of academic journals is certainly a tricky issue – and not the same issue as access, or the free availability of the publication on the Web. Whether academic journals are paid for by something that looks like distasteful “subsidy publishing,” or by subscriptions, or by grants, it’s still basically the same pool of university money that funds them. I just think that money should buy availability to the public, in this day and age, when it comes to research and scholarship about digital media.

    Sherman, I’m sure an editor could read my reply as something other than hostile. I wrote that I would be glad to review for the journal if it becomes open access. Obviously, that means I do not disagree with how it is being edited and do not have anything personal against the editorial staff or the publisher. My objection is that the publication isn’t available to the public – specifically and concretely, to the people in my field who I converse with here on Grand Text Auto but who are not academics. I understand that in different fields, and when it comes to different journals that have been around for decades, there are circumstances that can make the immediate adoption of open access difficult or impossible. I’m talking about my field, digital media, and I’ve made specific arguments above about why the availability of publications to the public is possible and necessary in this field. Referring to access as a spectrum may be useful, but it does not automatically make the different types of publishing into a happy rainbow of diversity, and it doesn’t make the wrong publishing policy into the right one.

    Lev, thanks for this reply. Your comment, which builds on Scott’s and some that I have heard privately, may be the most persuasive argument for open access. If journals will not truly publish academics’ work for them, making it available on the web, scholars – including the leading ones in a field – will increasingly not bother publishing in journals. It’s amazing that the institution of the journal can’t handle a publication task for academics these days, leaving them to do it for themselves. Thanks, anyway, for making your writing available online – my students appreciated the ease of access to “What is Digital Cinema” last semester.

  26. A couple of bumps on the road to OA? « Be openly accessible or be obscure Says:

    […] 2008 at 5:19 pm · Filed under open access I agree with the view expressed by Ben Brumfield (Grand Text Auto, December 21, 2007): I suspect that the OA debate will be resolved neither by authors nor by readers. The scientific […]

  27. Zach Whalen Says:

    This has become a really interesting thread, which I’ve had the opportunity to refer people to several times for various reasons. I just wanted to comment on a couple more dynamics that I think are lurking here.

    Lev’s comment that the current state of peer-review is a (currently) unavoidable nuisance reminds me of a statement by Kathleen Fitzpatrick at an MLA panel on the state of scholarly book publishing. Referring to the well-known “crisis” whereby academic presses are facing increasing pressures at the same time that academics still face considerable tenure pressure to get that first book out, Kathleen said that it’s not quite accurate to say that scholarly publishing is dead or dying. Rather, it is “undead” since it continues to shamble on in a husk of its original form. She didn’t want to push the metaphor too far, understandably, but I can’t help adding that maybe the best we can do with scholarly book publishing for now is keep it from eating our brains.

    While I was at MLA, I got to attend a workshop put on by the CELJ for new editors of journals. The goal of the session was just for current and experienced editors to share some of their approaches to the logistics and drudgery of putting out a journal. I learned from several interesting and well-informed points of view, but even though there was much discussion of economic models for publishing, no one thought to mention electronic publishing or open access at all. The closest was a brief mention of using subscription services like Project MUSE and EBSCO to make money off of back issues. Granted, each editor present ran a print journal, and CELJ does include and support electronic journals, but the fact that it didn’t come up suggests that we still have some ground to cover.

    Of course, Digital media studies should be one of the fields leading the way toward real, electronically-enabled open-access, but it also occurred to me that here on this thread, we, similarly, haven’t really talked about print-only journals except obliquely. I realize many, probably most, primarily-print journals also make their content available through services like JSTOR, but many don’t. Is submitting to such a journal also “anti-publishing” since the fixedness of print denies access to those without means in a far broader sweep than is the case with pay-wall journals?

    Maybe it is. But as long as we still get “credit” (CV-wise) to publish with such journals (maybe even more so than open-access), I imagine many of will continue feeding the zombies.

  28. Copyright Advisory Network » Blog Archive » Publishers attack NIH deposit mandate; authors can fight back Says:

    […] Monfort has an excellent explanation of how the peer review process works and who pays for it at Grand Text Auto: Scholarly and scientific journals differ from many other sorts of publications. Authors are not […]

  29. mary Says:

    >>At my university (Bath) you can get a year’s subscription to >>our library — access to all our books and journals — for >>seventy pounds.

    I’m very excited this conversation is not only opening up a dialogue about review processes, costs, and relevance, but also disparity in academic resources across the US (and abroad)…
    If there were to be a count, I believe it would come out that most colleges in fact have limited access to academic journals for student and faculty research. And as Ben notes above, “But what of occasional readers such as hobbyists or independent scholars?” Most US academic research libraries do not allow guest online access, and university IDs are required at the door for entrance. The situation seems created to separate scholarship from any notion of public education.

  30. Kotaku Says:

    My Tiny Life Now Available Again – Free

    My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World (Being a True Account of the Case of the Infamous Mr. Bungle and the Author’s Journey, in Consequence Thereof, to the Heart of a Half-Real World Called LambdaMOO), in…

  31. My Tiny Life Now Available Again - Free [My Tiny Life] | Free Games Center Blog Says:

    […] My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World (Being a True Account of the Case of the Infamous Mr. Bungle and the Author’s Journey, in Consequence Thereof, to the Heart of a Half-Real World Called LambdaMOO), in addition to having a long-ass title, has been out of print for a few years now. But now, after some license-tweaking, it’s available as either a nice paperback (for $17.48) or a PDF download (for free!). Having read a lengthy book in PDF format before it was formally published, I would be happy never to read anything more taxing than an article on my computer – but it’s a nice gesture, and reminds me of a discussion over on Grand Text Auto on ‘digital media, games, and open access.’ […]

  32. Grand Text Auto » A Companion to Digital Literary Studies Says:

    […] prices and see if any are in your range. But chances are you’re in a position much like that discussed here last month — where this represents a form of anti-publication of these great essays. Luckily, I retained […]

  33. scott Says:

    If: book notes that danah boyd recently announced that she will only publish in open-access journals.

  34. Signs that social scholarship is catching on in the humanities « Digital Scholarship in the Humanities Says:

    […] prominent humanities scholars have voiced strong support for open access publishing. For instance, Nick Montfort has stated that he will no longer review articles for non-open access journals. Likewise, dannah […]

  35. Grand Text Auto » American People: Please Oppose H.R. 801! Says:

    […] We’ve had some sometimes heated discussions on here about open access and academic publications. […]

Powered by WordPress